Taoiseach under fire from within his own party over support for Varadkar
Questioned: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD during a media update following a meeting of the Cabinet Subcommittee on Covid-19 at Government Buildings, Dublin. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins
November 05 2020 02:30 AM
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has come under fire from his own party members for his handling of the Leo Varadkar leaking controversy.
At a Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting, Mr Martin was told there was “disgust” and “anger” at his response to the debacle.
Outspoken Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry told the Taoiseach the party’s “credibility was in tatters” because of how he reacted to revelations that Mr Varadkar leaked an unpublished GP contract to his friend Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail.
Mr MacSharry said there was not a “six-year-old” in the country who “couldn’t see through” what he claimed was the Tánaiste’s “fairy tale” explanation for leaking the document.
Sources said the Sligo-Leitrim TD told the meeting there was “palpable anger” among Fianna Fáil members to see Mr Martin as a “chief flag flyer” for Mr Varadkar.
He hit out at Mr Martin for what he claimed was “throwing Barry Cowen and Dara Calleary under the bus” when they were involved in controversies during brief stints as agriculture ministers.
Mr MacSharry criticised Mr Martin for his attacks on Sinn Féin, saying he resorted to talking about the Troubles when he was challenged by Mary Lou McDonald on the storm surrounding the Tánaiste.
He claimed Mr Martin had “dragged” Fianna Fáil down to 11pc in the polls and he claimed the party leader was “part of the problem”.
He told the Taoiseach he was “disgusted” with him.
Mr Martin responded to Mr MacSharry saying he took exception to his “personalised” remarks.
Another TD present described Mr MacSharry’s contribution as “OTT” and another source described his contribution as “destructive, not constructive”.
Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill was also critical of the party’s support for Mr Varadkar and said the party was “on its knees”.
Former minister Mr Cowen, who was sacked over a drink driving offence, said Mr Varadkar has been given due process by the Taoiseach but he had not.
Mr Cowen said the Tánaiste had not called for him to resign during the controversy and rather it was the Taoiseach who sacked him from Cabinet.
The Taoiseach has fully supported the Tánaiste since allegations were first printed in Village Magazine last Saturday.
Mr Martin told his TDs and Senators that the Tánaiste has apologised for his inappropriate actions. Sources said Mr Martin stated that what happened was wrong and can’t be repeated.
He said it was time to move on and concentrate on Covid-19 and Brexit.
Meanwhile, speaking at a private party meeting, the Fine Gael leader thanked TDs and senators who defended him after it emerged that he leaked a confidential document to his GP friend Dr Ó Tuathail.
Mr Varadkar told the meeting they should be careful who they choose as friends given the controversy sparked by his friendship with Dr Ó Tuathail.
A Fine Gael source said the Tánaiste “didn’t even say sorry” for the ongoing debacle over the leaked document.
“He just thanked people for doing media interviews for him and said be careful with the friends you choose,” the source added.
Another source said there was little discussion about the controversy at the meeting. However, Kildare North TD Bernard Durkan did praise Mr Varadkar’s performance.